A foundation established as a condition of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center’s conversion to a for-profit business will distribute about $700,000 this year.

That’s almost triple the $250,000 awarded by the Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation at the end of last year to not-for-profit and governmental entities in its initial funding cycle.

Organizations in north central Idaho, southeastern Washington and Wallowa County, Ore., will receive as little as $5,000, or as much as $75,000, according to a news release from the group. Counties included in the program are Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce in Idaho; Asotin, Garfield and Whitman in Washington; and Wallowa in Oregon.

The foundation has two categories of grants. One is for requests of as much as $75,000. Letters of interest for those are due by midnight Aug. 1.

Some will be invited to fill out a full application after the letters are reviewed by a board of community advisers. Winners will be announced in December.

“Priority will be given to applications that demonstrate a commitment to long-term vision, building partnerships and projects that address the root causes that affect health, wellness and help prevent disease,” according to the news release.

A second “fast-track small grant” category is new this year. A total of $150,000 has been earmarked for initiatives of no more than $5,000 in rural communities, to be picked monthly.

“With our fast-track grants we are hoping to encourage (small) nonprofits throughout our geographic region and help them meet needs without competing against the ‘big guys,’ ” Dr. John Rusche, chairman of the foundation’s board of community advisers, said in the news release.

The foundation was established when St. Joe’s in Lewiston sold in a $109 million deal to what is now LifePoint Health, turning it into a for-profit business for the first time in its more than 100-year history. Before the sale, St. Joe’s was owned by Ascension Health, a Catholic group that operates the largest not-for-profit chain of hospitals in the country.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden reviewed the transaction under the Nonprofit Hospital Sale or Conversion Act and mandated the creation of the foundation. The foundation governs a fund that was started with $25 million. Of that amount, $23 million came from the sale of the hospital and another $2 million came from RCCH HealthCare Partners, which merged with LifePoint Health last year.

The foundation bestows grants to comply with IRS rules that specify private foundations distribute 5 percent of their assets annually.

Last year, more than 20 groups in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington received funds. The largest amount, $30,050, went to Interlink, a group that helps senior citizens, to construct temporary aluminum ramps at homes. The foundation also helped fund the Snake River Community Clinic in Lewiston, the Pullman Council on Aging and the Potlatch Food Pantry.

“It helps the not-for-profits that provide services to the community,” Rusche said.


Elaine Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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